What a snake is chasing you
What do snakes look like?
Snakes belong to the class of reptiles and there to the order of scaled reptiles. In this they form the subordination of the snakes.
They are an ancient group of animals that descended from lizard-like ancestors. What they all have in common is that their bodies are very long and their front and rear legs have receded.
The smallest snake is only ten centimeters long, the largest such as a tiger python six to eight meters, the anaconda in South America even reaches nine meters in length.
Despite the uniform body structure, snakes look very different:
Some are rather short and fat, others very thin, their body cross-section can be round, triangular or oval. The number of their vertebrae is also different depending on the species, it ranges from 200 to about 435 vertebrae.
What all snakes have in common is the scaly skin covering, which consists of horn-like scales. It protects them from the sun and dehydration.
The shed dress is colored differently depending on the species and has different patterns. Because the shed coat cannot grow with the animals, snakes have to shed their skin from time to time. They rub their muzzle on a stone or branch, so that the old skin tears.
Then they strip off the old skin, and the new, larger one appears underneath. This old scale dress is also called the snake shirt.
Snakes do not have eyelids. Rather, the eyes are covered by a transparent scale.
But snakes cannot see very well. On the other hand, their sense of smell is very well developed. With their forked tongue, snakes perceive very fine scent traces.
The teeth in the snake's mouth are not used to chew, but to hold on to the prey.
Venomous snakes also have special fangs that are connected to the venom glands.
If a snake loses a tooth, it is replaced by a new one.
Where do snakes live?
Snakes can be found almost all over the world, except in very cold regions such as the Arctic, Antarctica, and in areas such as parts of Siberia or Alaska, where the ground is frozen all year round.
There are only a few snakes in Germany: the grass snake, the smooth snake, the dice snake and the Aesculapian snake. The only indigenous venomous snake in Germany is the adder.
Snakes colonize a wide variety of habitats:
From deserts to the jungle to fields, fields and lakes.
They can be found on the ground as well as in holes in the ground or high up on trees.
Some even live in the sea.
What types of snakes are there?
There are around 3000 species of snakes around the world. They are divided into three broad groups: strangler snakes, adders, and vipers.
How do snakes live?
Snakes are almost exclusively solitary animals. They are active at different times, depending on the species - some during the day, others at night.
Thanks to their excellent sensory organs, snakes always know exactly what is going on around them.
They perceive fragrances through their noses and with the help of their forked tongue.
With their tongue they then touch the so-called Jacobson organ in their mouth, with which they can analyze the fragrances. This enables them to track down and track prey.
Some snakes, such as pit vipers, can even perceive infrared rays, i.e. heat rays, with the help of their pit organ.
You don't have to see your prey, you can feel it. Giant snakes have a similar organ.
Snakes have trouble hearing. But they are able to perceive vibrations of the ground with the help of their inner ear.
Snakes are excellent at crawling. They meander across the ground, but also high up in the treetops and can even swim.
Marine species such as sea snakes can dive for up to an hour.
Like all reptiles, snakes cannot regulate their body temperature. That is, the body temperature depends on the temperature of the environment.
Because of this, snakes cannot survive in very cold areas.
In temperate regions, they usually spend the winter in hiding in a frozen state.
Most people are afraid of snakes. But snakes only bite when they feel threatened. And mostly they warn beforehand - after all, they don't want to waste their poison:
The cobra, for example, raises its neck shield and hisses, the rattlesnake rattles the rattle at the end of its tail.
But whenever possible, snakes flee when a human or animal attacker comes too close.
If you do get bitten by a snake, a so-called antiserum obtained from the snake's venom can help.
Some snakes also pretend they are poisonous and dangerous:
The king snake has a red ring pattern and so looks deceptively similar to the poisonous coral snake.
So she outsmarts enemies and keeps them at a distance.
Friends and enemies of snakes
Young snakes in particular are easily prey to birds of prey or small predators. But larger snakes are also prey for large predators or birds of prey.
How do snakes reproduce?
After mating, the female snakes lay their eggs in a sheltered, warm place. Some species guard these egg clutches, others do not. After hatching, the young snakes have to cope on their own.
In some species of snakes, the eggs mature in the body of the female and the young are born alive.
How do snakes hunt?
Snakes have different hunting techniques:
Strangler snakes like the boa, but also smaller, non-poisonous snakes, lie in wait for their victims, bite into it, entwine and strangle them.
Venomous snakes kill their prey with a venomous bite. Then they wait until the fleeing prey dies and track it down with their sense of smell. They then devour the prey - even if it is much thicker than the snake - in one piece.
This is possible because the snakes' upper and lower jaws are not fused together. Snakes can open their mouths very wide and devour large animals.
What do snakes eat?
Snakes are predatory, so they feed on living or dead animals.
The prey ranges from insects to mice, frogs and lizards to birds, their eggs and even other snakes.
Giant snakes can devour large mammals. After such a meal, they do not need to eat for weeks or months.
The grass snake, native to Germany, feeds mainly on frogs and amphibians.
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